Meet the Team




Head of Education – Arabella Hardy

Arabella has worked with young people across a broad spectrum to support them in finding the best possible outcomes and employability status that they can achieve. She is experienced within the special educational needs sector and takes a holistic approach to education, whereby children aren’t just encouraged to achieve their academic potential. They also learn vital skills that will help them engage in learning and prepare them for life.

“The immediate thing that attracted me to the school was the location and the grounds enabling the students to have the space and freedom that they need.

Acorn Park is a wonderful school where all students are accepted, respected, supported and encouraged to be the best that they possibly can be and to develop and celebrate their individual future aspirations and lifelong goals.

From walking through the gates I immediately realised that I wanted to be part of the Acorn Park School community. The trans-disciplinary approach to education, care and therapy all working seamlessly together is fundamental when working with children with so many different complex needs.

I enjoy being part of a committed senior leadership team with all staff from teachers, high level teaching assistants, learning support assistants, duty managers, seniors, support staff and the excellent therapy team, domestic and facilities, all working together for the common goal of all the students.

I think the children best sum up why I come to school each morning, in our last Ofsted inspection the students said the following;

“We are proud of our school and we like coming to school, as school understands our Autism and the range of challenges we experience and how to best support them in our learning.”


Registered Manager – Val Petch

Val Petch is our Residential Manager and leads our dedicated team who look after the children who stay with us at Acorn Park. Val brings a wealth of experience from her extensive career working with children and young people.

For the past few years Val has been responsible for a number of small residential homes in the Suffolk area. She doesn’t shy away from challenging situations and has helped young people with a whole range of challenges, including those with emotional and behavioural difficulties and those at risk of child sexual exploitation.

Regardless of their background or circumstances, Val has high expectations for all the children she cares for and is committed to helping each and every child to achieve his or her potential. This unfailing dedication is something that Val seeks to nurture within the teams she works too. Her aim is to deliver the highest possible standards of care with consistency, patience and fun.

The highly individual and personalised approach to education we take at Acorn Park is something that Val is keen to build on. She has seen the powerful and positive change that can be achieved by getting to know children and building bespoke interventions around their own interest and gifts.